Chevy Bolt EV – Purchase evaluation

In August 2020, I finally decided it was time to purchase an electric vehicle. Being that I’m extremely frugal and essentially retired, there was little chance of me spending a boatload of bucks. In fact, even at retirement age, and having owned many cars over my lifetime, I had never spent more than $10k for a car. Also, all but one was “previously owned.” The one exception being a Chevy Prism (essentially a Toyota Corolla) that I purchased when I had built up a $7k credit on a GM rewards credit card towards a new GM product (those were the days!).

I am a confessed “tree hugger” and what to continue my journey to being environmentally friendly and to live a more sustainable life. I had previously updated an older 1920 house to fairly energy efficient and have a current project to create a net-zero energy home, but those are stories for another day.

Primary EV considerations/requirements

  1. Low cost: under $20k
  2. Practical for Uber, Lyft, and Amazon driver
    1. Needs to seat 5
    2. Needs absolute minimum range of 150 miles, 200 better
    3. Economical to run: Needs to be relatively inexpensive to run. I would also add good gas mileage, but EVs automatically qualify.
  3. Hatchback: Seems to me to be the most practical option

Low cost
New EVs that even begin to meet my requirements are well beyond my desired purchase price. It was not until 2020 when 2nd generation EVs started showing up on the used car markets that I could even begin to consider buying something. And even now, from a purely financial standpoint, a nice used Prius V would be a better choice! [Check out my RideShare car cost calculator here.]

Prior to the pandemic, I drove some rideshare Uber/Lyft and delivered some for Amazon. Uber and Lyft require 5 seats. Also, passengers (and I) hate those rear seats with minimal leg room! Via the SmartGigDriver app, I have very detailed records of the mileage I would drive in a single session. These driving sessions would max out at about 120 miles. When you take into consideration winter driving and limited charging options, definitely need an EPA range above 150 and really 200 miles is more of a minimum requirement.

There are different car designs, but the form that fits my style is a hatchback. The hatchback is clearly better for the Amazon delivery of packages, but beyond that, it fits my style. I take my bicycle places to ride and do a lot of DIY work on my house where I need to deliver STUFF. I have been a Prius owner for years (2nd generation Priuses) and the other form factors just do not seem to be as good.

EV Options: Only one

Chevy Bolt
The Chevy Bolt is so clear a winner, that I’m not even going to list others in the category. Please see my complete review once it is available. With many 2017 Chevy Bolts coming off lease, there seem to be many available at reasonable prices. Seat 5 with a decent rear seat. Range 238 miles. The reviews have been very positive! Oh, and its a hatchback with good storage space.

Other EVs: Again really only one option

Nissan 2nd generation Leaf
The 2nd generation Leaf is almost a good option. I appreciate what Nissan did in bringing out the original Leaf which I think really started the movement of EVs into the people’s consideration. The 2nd generation car is very nice but just falls a bit short in all my categories. Range 150 miles, barely acceptable. The rear does now seat 5 (barely), but the legroom is 33″ a full 6″ less than my 2009 Prius. And since these only first became available in 2018, the price is just too high.

Option car options

I have loved my 2009 Prius and my 2007 Prius. They have been fantastic cars. The newer generations though left me unhappy because of more limited space in the rear. Also, the 3rd generation (2010-2015) had a “cockpit” for the driver that makes me feel cramped and does not let me spread my legs. The Prius V was certainly the best hybrid option.

Plug-In Hybrids
I really considered Plug-In Hybrids for a bit. I think they are great transitional options, but in the end, it seems that the Bolt EV was such a great fit that there was no need. Also, since I’m really trying to get off fossil fuels, I would want a plug-in with at least 50 miles of range so I could have the vast majority of my usage be completely electric.

Honda Clarity – A great plug-in option with a 50-mile range and very good reviews. As a sedan, it is the wrong form.

Chevy Volt – I hate the small back seat and prior to 2016 would only seat 4. But it has very good reviews and I believe help set the stage for the Bolt’s release.

BMW i3 with Range Extender – These cars are quite neat, but would not work for Uber/Lyft and although they have been quite reliable, I fear the repair costs.

Used Tesla Model S or Model 3
No EV discussion would be complete without talking about Tesla options. Ok, they are exciting but do not really match my requirements. Too expensive and no hatchback option. I do think that I will own a Tesla perhaps as soon as within the next 3 years when they come out with a less expensive hatchback option.